Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Excerpts From a Recent TK Demo

I was over an hour into a demo for a group of six engineers and had covered most of the basics when I got the usual question from a Mathcad fan who was growing frustrated by all the enthusiasm the audience was showing for TK. “What if I want to type everything into a single document, including text and formulas, and have the solutions appear as I progress down the document?”

I gave my standard response. “It’s easy to create documents in Word, copying and pasting TK objects such as equations, tables, plots, and sections of the Variable Sheet into them as needed. You can dynamically link the TK objects so that when you change the values in the model, the document updates as well. TK also provides a built-in report writer that’s an efficient way to automatically dump most of the model into a report.”

The Mathcad fan just grew more agitated by this. “But what if I want to type the values directly into the document? Can I type the values into Word and have the TK model update?”

Again, I gave my standard response. “No. The Word document includes your text but the variables, tables, and plots come from the linked TK model.” And then the shocker. “You might try using Mathcad if you want to type values into the document…”

The Mathcad fan quickly chirped, “Exactly. That’s the way I need to work.”

I couldn’t resist. “Really? So what happens when you’ve typed up your Mathcad document and then you find out the problem changed slightly (in TK terms, anyway) and what had been a solution variable suddenly becomes a critical input?”

There’s a moment of silence at this point. I waited but eventually answered the question myself. “Time to start redoing your document. Mathcad documents flow from right to left and top to bottom. You need to completely restructure your document to handle the new scenario. Meanwhile, with TK Solver and Word, the report automatically updates when the TK model is backsolved. The equations haven’t changed. It’s just the sequence in solving them that changes and TK handles that automatically.”

Another long pause. It’s like he just learned that the Earth isn’t flat. I press on. “You probably already know how to use Word so there’s nothing to learn. And since most office PCs have Word installed, there’s usually no added cost.”

The Mathcad fan mustered a half-hearted response: “But I really like being able to type and see the formulas directly.”

“You can type and see the formulas directly in TK Solver and they transfer nicely over to Word. Best of all, you can type REAL EQUATIONS into TK without any additional programming. For example, what if you’re making a point that two ratios must be equal? In TK Solver, you just type an equation showing ratios on both sides of an equal sign. Mathcad works with sequences of assignment statements. You have to decide which variable you are going to solve for and isolate it to the left of an assignment statement. That’s just a lot of extra work.”

The rest of the audience encouraged the Mathcad fan to give it up.

I’ve often heard it said that 85% of the technical engineering work is done by 15% of the engineers and that the rest devolve into paper pushers. TK Solver encourages innovation and creativity while efficiently producing concise, effective, adaptable reports. In the end, Mathcad users could accomplish much more with TK.

Join the innovators. Go with TK.

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